Stallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II

What a gloriously stupid movie. First Blood, the 1982 film about a disturbed Vietnam vet taking on a county sheriff with a bloated sense of self-importance, was a surprisingly impressive film. It was gritty and low-rent, despite having a big star in the lead. It was an action film that had real world reasons for the action. It was ridiculous and believable at the same time. But today’s film is just a blood and guts cartoon. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II”

The Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys movie posterIt’s incredible how little redundancy is built into Skynet. Not long after Terminator Genisys opens, we see the mythical John Connor leading an assault on Skynet’s time travel facilities. Connor, played by Jason Clarke, has ordered the bulk of his forces to attack Skynet itself, farther north, much to the consternation of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who hasn’t been let in on the Terminator series canon at this point. As the battle rages at the time machine, all of Skynet’s killer robots go inactive, signaling that Skynet has been destroyed, and only the war in the past remains undecided.

A viewer is required to engage in a large amount of suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy Terminator films. There’s the whole time travel/killer robots thing to get past, and a plot hole-to-consistency ratio that is weighted too far towards the wrong side. But the idea John Connor’s troops could attack a single location, presumably blow it to smithereens, and a worldwide computer network would collapse, is ludicrous.

This is it. We’re in the future. Thirty years ago, when the first Terminator was released, something like Skynet was as far beyond our comprehension as time travel, making it fine to just make stuff up. But today we live in a world of server farms and off-site backups. Sure, there are still times when an ISP goes offline and millions of people can’t get their email, but those times are rare, and never last all that long (unless it’s a Sony network). Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys”

October Horrorshow: Galaxy of Terror

Galaxy of Terror movie posterRoger Corman is a Hollywood legend. Some of the biggest names in the business went through his gristmill. Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, and more, all spent early portions of their careers under Corman. But, I’m not convinced that Corman is a visionary. His flicks represent the basest elements of filmmaking, crafted to make a quick buck, and not much else. Because of that, I would say that I find more Corman influence in films by The Asylum and their ilk, rather than Oscar winners like The Godfather.

Today’s film is a case in point. Corman didn’t direct Galaxy of Terror, the sci-fi/horror shitfest from 1981, but he did produce it. Meanwhile, the fellow who did direct it, Bruce D. Clark, appears to have fallen off the face of the planet after this flick was in the can, if his IMDb page is any indication. This is one of the most inept films I’ve ever seen, so it’s no wonder the work dried up after Clark was done, but his direction was no worse, and no better, than any random Corman flick a viewer could find. The pacing is somnambulistic; the plot is derivative of other works, to the point of outright thievery; the cast is low-rent and awful (although even Meryl Streep couldn’t weave gold thread from this turd); and the entire package looks like it took about five bucks to film. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Galaxy of Terror”

Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

This is it. The penultimate film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month. I have one more film in mind, but Terminator 3 is the perfect film with which to conclude the chronological portion of reviews. Terminator 3 is the last film in which Arnold starred before he retired to become governor of California. After his time in Sacramento was over, he returned to acting, but so far, it’s been all coda (for reviews of two of these post-governorship movies, click here and here). There would have been no shame at all if this were the last Arnold film. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”

Schwarzenegger Month: True Lies

A quick sampling of the directorial career of James Cameron is in order. In 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. In 1994, True Lies was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. In 1997, Titanic was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. Two other films he directed, The Abyss and Avatar, were both wildly expensive, massive productions for their times. I’m sensing a pattern here. Put simply, James Cameron spares no expense. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: True Lies”

Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

There cannot be a Terminator movie without Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s just silly talk to pretend otherwise. But, by the time Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released, in 1991, Arnold was no longer a semi-anonymous hulkster who could believably play a robot. Audiences were too familiar with him. Said another way, in the original Terminator, we viewers saw the character of the terminator. In the sequel, we see Arnold. This factor set up a delicate dance for director James Cameron, one he did not execute perfectly. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

Schwarzenegger Month: The Terminator

Is The Terminator the best movie Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever been in? There’s a strong possibility that it is. Some viewers have an affinity for Terminator 2, others for Conan the Barbarian. As for me, I voted with my eyes a long time ago. Of all the films Arnold has made, The Terminator is the one I’ve watched the most. It is impossible for me to recall just how many times I’ve seen it, but I would not be surprised if it’s somewhere in the 20s, maybe even the 30s. So, pardon me while I gush. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: The Terminator”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens

Aliens movie posterAlien is an artful film. It is frightening and suspenseful, but it also has operatic grace and gritty realism, despite being set mostly aboard a spaceship. It’s hard to imagine Alien spawning a sequel so tonally different yet still so successful, but Aliens does just that. The two films are poles apart, sharing with each other only the alien creatures and Sigourney Weaver, who reprises her role from the first film as Ripley.

Many sequels born of successful films are flawed from the start, attempting to recreate the magic of the first film by simply imitating it. For example, Jaws 2 tried its damnedest to cash in on its progenitor’s success, but it was little more than a rehash of the same story with a less robust script, a less talented director, and a lame attempt at topping the original’s explosive climax. More examples abound, including Rocky and Rocky 2, King Kong and Son of Kong, along with many others.

Aliens director and screenwriter James Cameron was surely aware of film history and the perils of trying to recreate a successful formula when he conceived the project. His solution appears to have come about by asking some simple questions about Alien. Why didn’t the protagonists just shoot the alien? What would happen if there were more than one alien? Cameron apparently decided that a successful sequel could be made while adhering to conceptual precedent by arming the humans in his film with machine guns, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers. Since heroes bristling with such weaponry would make quick work of one alien, Cameron supplies dozens. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens”